New arson concerns in Montara neighborhood

TOPEKA (KSNT) – In July of 2014, half of all the Topeka structure fires happened in the Montara neighborhood, many were later ruled arson.

An incident Monday morning has residents worried for their safety, with some even contemplating moving.

“He had heard something at one o’clock in the morning, and he turned his porch light on to spook whatever it was,” says neighborhood resident, Kayce Chilson.

But after investigating where the noise came from, “On the siding of the house you could just see, it’d been doused with gasoline,” says Chilson.

A vacant duplex, with four empty gasoline tanks next to the property.

“I don’t even want to think about what could’ve happened,” says Yolanda Dominguez, who lives in the adjoining property.

But history shows her what could have. There’ve been a string of arsons throughout the Montara neighborhood over the past several months. At one time, four arsons in four days.

Fire officials wouldn’t comment on Monday’s incident, but,”We just need to make sure that we’re taking care of our neighborhoods. When we see vacant structures in our neighborhoods, we need to keep an eye on them, if we see people going in and out of them, we want to notify the police,” says Topeka Fire Marshall Michael Martin.

The duplex was then washed down, and the gas tanks were removed.

It wasn’t until neighbors posted the information online that Dominguez found out about the incident, that happened only a wall away.

We reached out to the leasing office and they tell KSNT News that the whole thing is ‘just a misunderstanding’, and that the gas cans found were actually theirs, because they were using them to mow the lawn.

Residents don’t buy it.

“I don’t see any grass mowed, so I don’t see what’s misunderstanding. And if you look…If they’re mowing than why is it all over the wall?” says Dominguez.

“Is there insurance money that needs to be collected? Or is someone just mental?,” wonders Chilson.

Questions she says she’s not willing to wait to find out.

“Yeah, I think we’re ready to relocate,” says Chilson.

City fire officials tell us incidents of arson in Topeka have been on the decline over the past decade, except in the Montara neighborhood. Meanwhile, neighbors we spoke with  have begun a nightly neighborhood watch to patrol the area.

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